Amazon's Kindle DX Turns A Page In E-Books
My commute to work this week hasn't left the usual amount of newsprint on my fingers. Instead of grabbing a section of the Post to read on the train (the Metro section usually fills that block of time perfectly), I've taken a Kindle DX loaned by Amazon's PR department.
The experience was pleasant -- I was no longer limited to one section of the paper, I could listen to some music (using the MP3-playback function Amazon labels as "experimental") and, of course, I didn't have any gray ink leftovers on my fingertips. On the other hand, I didn't have to pay for the Kindle, since it's going back to Amazon's publicists next week.
Today's column doesn't provide an unqualified endorsement of this device. I think the DX has some potential unavailable in the smaller, lighter and cheaper Kindle 2 (for one thing, as you can hear in today's tech podcast, the DX correctly pronounces President Obama's last name), but it doesn't look like it's going to upend the e-book market.
Its $489 price alone should see to that. But the DX also suffers from the same DRM-imposed constraints as earlier models. Look, I don't care how cool it looks today; why should I invest my money in books that I can only read on the devices that Amazon allows? I don't put up with that in music and fail to see why I should accept that with books.
Well, at least books of lasting value. Things like textbooks and travel guides -- what you could call disposable literature -- are a different matter. And in that respect, the DX could be a huge step forward, thanks to the e-textbook tests Amazon will be running with five schools later this year.
The DX's newspaper deal -- agree to subscribe to the Kindle edition of The Post, the New York Times or the Boston Globe, and you'll be able to get the device at a discount -- also shows promise. But as I noted in today's column (and in the post I wrote when the DX was unveiled), it's counterproductive to limit that offer to people who can't get home delivery of each paper. If people closer to D.C. would rather pay to read the Post in Kindle form, why not let them? For that matter, if home-delivery subscribers would also like to add a Kindle subscription, why not cut them a break on that second form of delivery?
To judge from the comments on that earlier post, you agree with me on those points.
For what it's worth, other reviewers haven't quite been bowled over by the DX either:
* The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg pronounced the DX a disappointment and called out one issue I didn't mention -- the absence of a lefty-friendly button layout.
* At mocoNews, Staci Kramer was no more enthusiastic, noting some glitches with wireless reception.
* Wired's Steven Levy gave it a 7-out-of-10 rating.
* At USA Today Ed Baig couldn't get over the Kindle DX's price.
What are your thoughts on the DX, and on the Kindle lineup in general? The comments are yours...
June 19, 2009; 10:44 AM ET
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